This post contains affiliate links to Amazon products. If you click on these, it will cost you nothing but will help me with the cost of replacing my stolen iPhone! 🙂
Okay, we’ve all been warned to be careful when traveling. And if you say you are traveling to Italy, you will be warned of pick pocketers. And they are right! The pick pocketers are professionals. It’s very calculated and if they see an opportunity to take it, they will.
The good news: violent crime is pretty unlikely. We felt safe physically most of the time. We were told to avoid “down by the River in Rome” by an American living in Rome. We looked down there from above and that seems like really solid advice. We did a walking tour in Rome at night and didn’t feel physically uncomfortable once.
The bad news: our “stuff” rarely felt safe. We felt like we were standing in a yard of dogs with the only bone when we had our stuff with us. We were targeted and they did pick pocket my phone on a bus in Rome. After that, there were several times, especially in the Naples train station and on the Circumvesuviana in the Naples/Sorrento area, that we strongly believe we were not victims again only because we were so on guard.
There was a moment I was literally yelling “no!” very loudly at someone who came up from me and surprised me asking me for directions. Sorry, sir! But I was on high alert, and for good reason.
We took a bus in Rome and they stole the phone right out of my pocket. Watch the video below for more information on exactly how that played out and some of my advice because of it.
Also, learn from my mistake and learn how to protect your “stuff” like your wallet, passports, money and phones. Here are some really good products that will help you save thousands of dollars, all for $10-15. I’d say that’s worth it!
We did one thing right. We had our money including cash and cards and Passports all in an amazing travel wallet. This can be worn around the neck over or under clothing. No, it’s not super fashionable. Yes, it will 100% be worth protecting the most valuable things you are carrying. If you only buy one travel thing, make it this. Travel wallet: https://amzn.to/2slAfPi
A case like this $10 Minnie phone case with strap could have saved me so much money and hassle! I HIGHLY recommend you get this or something like it! (They have Mickey too!)
Minnie: https://amzn.to/2D6OBt0 Mickey: https://amzn.to/2Fru6ce
Also, if you’re looking to keep your camera and gear secure, we used a Vinta travel photography backpack. It zips in the back making it nearly impossible to get into. When we were traveling with all of our luggage, we used a small suitcase lock on the zipper just for an added layer of protection. Backpack: https://amzn.to/2VMLKNg Suitcase locks: https://amzn.to/2Fv0YRp
We also had Tiles in our travel wallet and camera backpack, just as kind of a last effort. This would likely only help if it was lost and not stolen. We appreciated the extra peace of mind though and use these in diaper bags, strollers, etc. daily even when not traveling. https://amzn.to/2D5GvAO
Hope this helps you have a magical adventure! – Jess
I know what you may be thinking, a radio style show of an old movie – sounds kinda, dare we say, maybe, boring? I had high hopes for this show and 100% trusted my fellow blogging friend, Tonya, when she said the show would be wonderful. But I could completely understand how others may look at this show and wonder – will I like it?
Well, let me tell you what I thought. I LOVED this show. I’ve attended all kinds of shows from high school productions to Broadway. Having grown up an hour between New York City and Philadelphia and now living only minutes away from Walt Disney World, I definitely have been to my fair share of extremely high quality shows and also small productions. This show was probably my favorite community theater production I’ve seen.
The Radio style show has several actors performing a live radio show of the classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. The actors are dressed the part of living in the early 1900s but the scenery is minimalistic, as though you were in the radio studio.
So how did the Moonlight Players Theatre make this production stand out? Well, first, having the radio style show stripped down some of the distractions for me. I was able to just stay engaged in the actual story and the emotion. I loved this aspect. Additionally, the actors really did a fantastic job and that made it even more engaging. Many of the actors are seasoned and work for major entertainment locations like Disney. Even the actor who was acting for the first time really hit it out of the park. You could feel all of their emotions, picture what they described and even hear (and see!) the audio effects. The audio effects are done by Sarah Louise Harris who studied audio design professionally in college. She designed and produced all of the props needed for the sounds herself!
Community theater is something really important to support, and the Moonlight Players Theatre gives us plenty of reasons to support them. All of the details of the performance, feeling like you are transported to a different time and place and the incredible overall feeling you will leave with all make this a theater you will not regret checking out!
This production will run from December 7-16, 2018 and you can find more details including about purchasing tickets here on their Facebook page.
When you’re traveling, sometimes you don’t have a car or don’t have time to grocery shop. An excellent way to save money, time and energy is to use a grocery delivery service. Grocery shopping isn’t my favorite hobby anyway, so I’m especially interested in skipping this while I’m on vacation. I also always want some basics and at the price I’m used to paying ($5 for a pack of water not 1 bottle). When you shop for your groceries this way, you can shop from the comfort of your beach chair or while you’re waiting to ride Flight of Passage and have water bottles back at your hotel waiting for you when you get there. You’re sold on this, right? Read on for the how-to.
My personal favorite grocery delivery service is Amazon Prime Now so that’s the one I’ll be explaining in this post. You can also use Shipt for delivery from stores like Publix and Target and there are also local small businesses that offer these services as well.
How to use Amazon Prime Now to have almost anything you could imagine needing delivered to you within a few hours
Place items in your cart from either Amazon or Whole Foods (can’t mix and match) that add up to at least $35 to get free delivery (you can add a tip but it’s not required)
Pick out your delivery time – they offer 2 hour time slots from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Enjoy your time with your family until your order comes!
When your items are delivered, they’ll either be delivered to Bell Services at a hotel or to your door of your home. You should tip Bell Services, especially if they deliver to your hotel room. As of when I’m writing this I do not believe there are any additional delivery fees at Disney Resorts at least but check with your hotel.
Enjoy your delivered items! Could be anything from veggie sushi from Whole Foods to an extra onesie from Amazon! Also, more practically, could be snacks and water for your Park Days or Beach Days!
I personally pretty much exclusively grocery shop this way now! I do occasionally go to the store just to grab something quickly or pick my own produce. And we still love the Farmer’s Market. Overall, it’s so much easier to place items in my virtual cart as I remember them, click check out when I’m ready and bring them in from my front door. Driving 30+ minutes in a car with a child who doesn’t like the car, buckling, unbuckling, trying to settle a bored baby or chase a toddler and hope we don’t break anything and ultimately buying things I don’t need and forgetting what I went to the store for anyway – I’ll pass! Grocery Delivery may very well be a mom’s best friend! What do you think?
Hope this helps you have a magical vacation!
Should you use a travel agent? Many people have asked us this question and I’d say the answer is amost always: yes! Read on to hear some top reasons why the answer is yes.
For Disney Vacations
The first Disney Vacation I planned as an adult was OVERWHELMING for me! So much had changed since the last time I had gone when I was around 18 years old with my parents. When I was a child, we went just about every year and I knew a lot about Disney Parks. Back then, you walked up and got paper fast passes when they started offering them and it was pretty easy to eat wherever you wanted to. Fast forward 10 years and there was SO much about Fast Passes, Dining Reservations, strollers and planning that I just didn’t know. I didn’t remember much about the resorts or even the layouts of the parks. Additionally, when we were on vacation, we had a problem arise with our reservation and we ended up losing a half day of park time trying to resolve it by being on the phone and having to return to our resort. I learned a lot on that trip and one of the most valuable lessons was that you should almost always use a travel agent who will help you walk through all of those things.
Here are my Top 5 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent:
1. It’s free for you. You do not pay any extra money at all (True 100% of the time for Disney, other vacations it’s also true most of the time). Not sure I need to go on after that, but I will!
2. You may actually even get some financial benefit. You may get a free credit or gift card for using the Travel Agent.
3. You get access to many additional tips, resources and personalized planning. For example, they will make suggestions such as which resorts might be best for your family and they can schedule dining reservations for you. A good Travel Agent will send you tips based on your family needs (ex. links to Disability Access, Stroller Rentals and more).
4. They will check to make sure you have the best price and deal available. If after you book with Disney, for example, free dining specials become available they will notify you and help you switch to a package that may be better for you or give you added benefits.
5. And probably the most valuable reason: you will be able to talk to someone (your Travel Agent) quickly if you come across an issue. There’s nothing worse than having an issue and then having to stay on hold for an hour while you should be riding the Tea Cups with your 3-year-old (even if it is the 5th time in a row!). Your time, especially family time, is invaluable. And a travel agent will help your trip go smoothly and keep your family time exactly that – fun family time together.
Are there any reasons not to use a Travel Agent when booking for Disney? Well, there may be one. If you call into Disney to try to change something with your resort stay, they may direct you to your Travel Agent instead. If this would bother you for any reason, then perhaps that would be a reason. But you can still alter your own Fast Pass and Dining Reservations, using the My Disney Experience App and more. So in my opinion, even an experienced traveler would still benefit from the use of a Travel Agent because you still have control to plan what you want and then get all the other added benefits as well.
For Other Vacations
I would still say yes, most of the time. But there may be some additional considerations.
For cruises? For example, booking a cruise you may get onboard credit and no extra fees to book with an agent. If you’ve never cruised or are not an experienced cruiser, a Travel Agent’s tips and information may be invaluable. If you’ve been on many cruises, it may make sense to book it yourself.
For all inclusive resorts? Many all-inclusive resorts work with Travel Agents the same way. You may be able to get specials or get some extra advice and tips on the locations from your agent all for free. I personally would much prefer to speak directly with someone who knows a great deal about a location when trying to make decisions about my vacations.
For International trips? If you’ve never traveled Internationally before and are going with a young child, I would say having a Travel Agent or Guided Tour would make the most sense. Traveling Internationally can bring so much joy and also can be fret with moments of frustration. Unlike Disney vacations where Cast Members provide likely the best customer service you’ll ever receive in your life, traveling Internationally can be amazing and yet also confusing and things can change very quickly. I have traveled in Europe regularly. Several times I have been in the countryside of Italy and southern Germany and trains just didn’t show up any time near the schedule and the explanation was that they just didn’t that day and you may be told this in a language you do not understand. When traveling with a baby or young child, flexibility is key but so is being comfortable in your environment. If sudden changes in plans would cause you to be uncomfortable, you may wish to look into a guided trip or something more likely to go very smoothly like a Disney World vacation.
My final thought: If you aren’t sure whether you will use a Travel Agent or not, request a free, no obligation quote! There’s no harm in getting more information from a Travel Agent and you may be pleasantly surprised how much you enjoy your interactions with them immediately.
Hope this helps make your vacation magical!
I fully support all ways parents feed their babies. This post is on how to navigate breastfeeding while in public and while traveling in general and also specific locations that may be more comfortable at Walt Disney World Parks. More information on bottle feeding and pumping while at Disney can be found on our Baby Care Centers post. Also check out the Rides with Younger Children series for information on breastfeeding on rides at each of the Walt Disney World Parks, start here at Magic Kingdom.
In all 50 states, women have the right to breastfeed anywhere they are legally allowed to be; therefore as long as you are legally able to be where you are anywhere including Walt Disney World, you may breastfeed there. Just recently, Elodie was having an epic meltdown because she needed to breastfeed and I stood in the monorail line with no cover and breastfed her right there standing up because I had nowhere more comfortable or quiet to go. So if you feel like you can and you want to, you can literally breastfeed anywhere! But here are some tips to make it easier and more comfortable.
Where can I breastfeed and stay cool? Especially in the summer and with babies that can’t regulate their temperature well, it’s imperative to get out of the sun and heat as much as possible. Taking breaks to breastfeed in the Baby Care Centers or other air conditioned places can really help. You can breastfeed when you eat your meals which often have air conditioning and shade. There are a few other spots that are air conditioned and have seats like the lounge area when you exit the Character Spot in Epcot but they can be harder to find especially when you have a hungry (and maybe crying) baby. In the cooler months, any shaded bench will do and there are many little corners that have benches that feel a little more private
Will I miss a lot of time with my family? You can breastfeed on rides and not miss time with your family! Especially when Elodie was little, the Carousel of Progress was on one of my go-to breastfeeding places. It’s air conditioned and about 20 minutes where you can watch a classic show and baby has plenty of time to breastfeed. I’ve breastfed on most rides including People Mover, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean (I always wait until after the drop), Spaceship Earth, and even the Safari, and in many of the shows like The Little Mermaid, Lion King and Nemo. It’s comfortable, I’m able to stay with my family and friends enjoying our time together and there’s usually plenty of time for baby to breastfeed on at least one if not both sides. Some are loud and even though babies can go on any rides without a height restriction, some can still be bumpy or have a drop so it may be best to plan ahead if you are not familiar with the ride already. Check out our Rides and Shows with Younger Children Series for more information on which rides may be more comfortable for breastfeeding.
What should I do if I want to breastfeed in lines and while walking? One option is to breastfeed in a baby carrier. By loosening the straps of a carrier and with some practice, you can breastfeed on the go or in lines. If you have a young baby, it is especially important to make sure you have practiced this and are comfortable doing it because it is not only challenging but it is also important to make sure there is proper support for safety. When I breastfed Elodie in the carrier until she was about 6-8 months, I fully expected to have zero use of my hands but it did help me because the carrier supported the rest of her body while I supported her neck and helped her latch. After she was around 9 months, I could easily breastfeed with either one or both hands free. I am now able to breastfeed while standing and walking too but it took both her having more strength and me having more practice for us to get there. See my on babywearing and join my Facebook group for online help with babywearing and breastfeeding.
What if someone says something to me? This was something I was worried about in the beginning but never happened to me. I was ready to state my legal right to breastfeed if I needed but have never needed to yet. I did get a few looks that were slightly uncomfortable a few times and my mom once stared a woman down until she stopped because she appeared to be trying to take a picture of me breastfeeding during the Beauty and the Beast show. There are many people of many cultures from all over the world at Disney Parks and so it may be unfortunately something someone may encounter: the dreaded negative breastfeeding comments. But I encourage you to know your rights, have friends and family on board to support you and to breastfeed your baby the way you choose because: your baby, your choice and also literally exactly what breasts are intended to do: sustain life through breastfeeding! The Breastfeeding Coalition of Florida has the handy print out of the Florida law and I’ve placed it at the bottom of this post.
What if modesty is important to you? I personally am not extremely modest but I’m also not extremely comfortable showing too much either. I find that either breastfeeding clothing (shirts or dresses that have slits in them) or using the two shirt method (then you can still do matching family shirts too!) both work well for me. You can also carry and use a breastfeeding cover if you feel more comfortable with that or choose to always breastfeed in a private location like the breastfeeding rooms located inside each park at the Baby Care Centers.
Still have questions or want to know more about the two shirt method so you can still wear your matching “Minnie” and “Mini Minnie” shirts? Join our Facebook group Traveling with Little Kids and we will help you have a magical time with your little ones!
What if I told you that you could ride rides, hold your toddler’s hand and eat a Dole Whip (with probably none of it spilling on your baby’s head) all while holding your baby? You’d say sign me up, right?! Well I have to say babywearing has been the most magical tool I’ve had. It’s probably my favorite parenting tool overall but definitely while traveling and at Disney. Here are a few tips on babywearing while at an amusement park like Walt Disney World.
1. Find a carrier that works for you and your baby. The best way to do that is to find a local group although they are more difficult to find now that the non-profit Babywearing International closed down earlier in 2018. You may be able to find someone locally who will let you try on a variety of carriers or help you learn how to safely babywear and may even be able to do this through pictures online through Facebook. You can also check at your local baby store or read reviews online to determine what one might be best for your body type and baby’s personality. I personally have been a long time fan of the Tula Coast which is great for all ages and has mesh to keep you cool. Join our Facebook Group – Traveling with Little Kids – and I as well as other babywearing experts can help you there.
Our Family at Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios
2. Stay cool. Especially with Florida summers it’s important that you and baby stay a good temperature. This may mean bundling up sometimes – during that one week of winter – but more often than not at Disney it’s important to find ways to stay cool. Specifically for babywearing older babies and toddlers I like to use a well insulated cool pack like the one from U-Konserve between our tummies. It makes a huge difference! I also carry the free cups of ice around for me and Elodie.
Our Family Babywearing using a Tula at Walt Disney World’s Pandora
3. Ride the rides. Babies can ride with you on any ride at Walt Disney World except those with height restrictions (ex. roller coasters like Splash Mountain and faster rides like Tomorrowland Speedway). You can also use a baby carrier on any of these rides and do not need to take baby out or pull the carrier down unless you want. This is as long as baby is on the front (babies cannot be worn on the back on rides, assuming for safety but also would be uncomfortable). This means it can be easier to get on and off the rides, have extra hands to grab your bag or another child’s hand and overall it’s more secure and safe for baby. I know there was an age around 9 months where I was super thankful for babywearing on rides because Elodie would occasionally dart around like she wanted to check out London by flying like Tink on Peter Pan’s Flight but babywearing allowed me to feel confident that she would stay safe in the flying pirate ship with me.
4. Protect your back and conserve your energy. Especially on vacation it’s best to take it easy when you can because it’s often a marathon of fun at Disney. That may mean you want to do a few things when you can to protect your back and keep your energy. I personally bring a stroller for long days. Elodie can sit in there for longer walks like walking from Spaceship Earth to the Frozen Ever After Ride (it’s over a mile!) or, as often ends up being the case for us, it can hold stuff while I wear baby. Also take turns holding or wearing with a partner if you can – my husband loves to wear Elodie. If you’re going for a shorter time (like after dinner for a few hours) you may consider just bringing the carrier and a small bag containing only the essentials as it can be easier to get a few rides done quickly without keeping track of your stroller and navigating it through the crowds.
5. Breastfeed, bottle feed, nap in the carrier. You can do a lot of things while babywearing and so can baby! Reach out to a friend, moms group or me if you need tips on doing any of these things. I’ve breastfed and bottle fed many times in my Tula – it’s perfect for long lines as you’ve got more support. Elodie LOVES napping in the carrier, especially on her daddy’s back. You can really make the most of your trip when you use a baby carrier.
6. Enjoy your adventures!! Most of all, having extra hands and support allows you to enjoy your vacation. Whether your playing games with your toddler or are able to connect with your partner while having a quiet moment as baby naps – just enjoy all the places you can go and the things you can do while holding your baby close!
Hope this helps you have a magical time with your little ones! XO, Jess
My Husband Babyearing Elodie in Front of the Castle at Magic Kingdom